It was 6:30 in the morning when we approached the parking lot of the Bread and Roses Women’s Health Center. There were no policemen keeping watch, no clinic workers. The parking lot was completely deserted and quiet, covered by the morning haze of a sun buried in a cloudy sky. That day, Saturday, April 23, 1988, the sun would never show itself. It rained on and off the whole day which made the spring air cold.
The car just ahead of me, a 1974 Impala station wagon, sped into the lot. It drove up onto the sidewalk of the strip mall and wildly careened to the door of the Bread and Roses Women’s Health Center where its driver rested it parallel to the door—only inches away. In another second, a 1965 orange Chevy pick-up truck pulled into the lot. Its driver parked it perpendicular to the first car. Both men immediately jumped out of the vehicles and started to take the air out of the tires.
Another two men—Edmund Miller, a graduate student at Marquette University and the older Chet Kilgore, a worker at AT&T—quickly ran up to the back end of the Impala. Each of them wore extremely heavy, five-eighths-of-an-inch thick industrial chain around their waists. Three feet of the chain weighed 40 pounds. With the loose end of their chain belts Edmund and Chet fastened themselves by means of “U”-shaped, case-hardened Kryptonite locks to brackets hidden beneath the car which connected the bumper to the frame.
The driver of the Impala threw its keys down the car’s fuel tank. The keys to the Chevy pick-up were dropped down a sewer grating in the street. Edmund and Chet threw the keys to their locks onto the roof of the abortion center. At last the cars and their bodies were securely in place. The rescue of unborn children from abortion had begun. Bread and Roses’ door was successfully blocked. The question would be—for how long?
An hour went by before Kathey Zinner, the manager of Bread and Roses, arrived for the day’s abortion business only to find her center barricaded by heavy immovable objects. Soon after her, the other workers arrived—all women, except for Willie, the center’s very bewildered security guard. In another 20 minutes the police arrived, too. They scratched their heads and surveyed the situation. Heavy-duty wire cutters were ordered and applied but they could not cut the chains which bound Chet and Edmund to the car. The police called the fire department. Into the third hour of the rescue the screaming sirens of two fire trucks were heard as they raced down 60th Street towards the abortion center. But the firemen, too, did not have the proper equipment to cut the chains.
Women scheduled for abortions arrived. Effectively barred from the abortion center, the women and those accompanying them stood on the sidewalk or waited in their cars. The pro-life sidewalk counselors talked to the women while the police and firemen experimented with various clippers and electric saws. Serving as a lifeline to keep the children bound to their mothers, the chains would not be broken.
The Jaws of Life—hydraulically powered steel cutting blades used to free car accident victims—were now used against the chains. The Jaws looked like the pinchers of some monstrous insect creature. They lived up to their name; they, too, failed to cut the chains of the pro-life rescuers. In fact, their blades were broken in the attempt.
Hours went by. Women who had hoped to obtain abortions that day came and left. Zinner, looking sharp and severe in her quasi-punk hair-do, and the other workers huddled under the overhanging ledge of the strip mall to keep out of the rain and the cold. They sipped coffee quietly, seemingly resigned to the fact that their work had been thwarted.
At one o’clock in the afternoon the chains of the rescuers were finally cut—and this by a small carbonite-blade high-speed saw that the firemen borrowed from a Midas Muffler Shop nearby. Tired, cold and wet, Edmund and Chet were escorted to the police van. They were victorious. For the first time an abortion center had been shut down in Milwaukee for an entire day and with only two arrests! Edmund and Chet were charged with criminal disorderly conduct, which carried a maximum sentence of a $1000 fine and 90 days in jail. From the written police report we learned that 25 pre-born children were scheduled for death at the Bread and Roses abortion center that day.
Tow trucks came and slowly took away the cars. Soon the picketers left and the sidewalk counselors too. The policemen gradually disappeared and after them the clinic workers. It was as though one by one, actors on a stage made their exits until the scene of the drama was empty again as we had found it so many hours ago.
Sit-In for Life
April 23, 1988, marked my tenth year of planning and participating in pro-life rescues. Between 1975 and 1988 rescues were dominated by Catholics and organized by Catholic lay leaders, notably John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe, Harry Hand, John Ryan, Samuel Lee, Juli Loesch, and also members of the Dominican lay community, Catholics United for Life. For the most part the number of rescuers was always small. Therefore, over the years, we applied ingenuity. We could not close an abortion center with 20 people forming a human chain, but we could close one with two cars, locks, chains, and two men.
As director of Citizens for Life in Milwaukee, my greatest struggle had always been recruitment. We had a committed core group made up of mostly Catholics with only a very few Protestants. A reason for the lack of Protestant involvement can be attributed to the “mainline” denominations having embraced a pro-abortion stance while the pro-life evangelical churches maintained an interpretation of Romans 13 which meant for them that breaking the civil law was immoral.
Let everyone obey the authorities that are over him, for there is no authority except from God, and all authority that exists is established by God. As a consequence, the man who opposes authority rebels against the ordinance of God; those who resist shall draw condemnation down upon themselves. [Romans 13:1-2]
This passage was frequently cited to me by pro-life evangelical Protestants. To break the laws of the state was to go against God Himself! However, the passage on law and obedience does not end with verse 2. The moral meaning of authority is given by St. Paul in the following verses:
Rulers cause no fear when a man does what is right but only when his conduct is evil. Do you wish to be free from the fear of authority? Do what is right and you will gain its approval, for the ruler is God’s servant to work for your good. Only if you do wrong ought you to be afraid. It is not without purpose that the ruler carries the sword; he is God’s servant to afflict his avenging wrath upon the evildoer. [Romans 13:3-5]
It is apparent that St. Paul is not concerned with how Christians should respond when a law is unjust. His teaching presupposes a situation in which the laws of the ruler are just. The law is meant to protect good and punish the evildoer. Only in this way is the ruler “God’s servant.” The New Testament and Catholic doctrine teach that an unjust law can be broken, and depending on the law it may actually be morally imperative to disobey it.
St. Thomas Aquinas taught:
Human law has the nature of law in so far as it partakes of right reason; and it is clear that, in this respect, it is derived from the eternal law. In so far as it deviates from reason, it is called an unjust law, and has the nature not of law but of violence. [Summa theologiae, I-II, 93, 3]
An unjust law is violence. It is violence because such a “law” tears down the order of Creation as it is made according to the divine wisdom of God. Joseph Scheidler said to me once that when he witnessed his wife give birth to their eldest daughter he knew the opposite of this life-giving moment. He knew abortion was the closest man could come to killing God. Abortion is the closest thing to killing God because it destroys His creative action in the making of a man.
Legalized abortion is violence to society not only because it attacks innocent human beings but because it attacks the order of love upon which the world is based: the love between men and women, husbands and wives, mothers and fathers. Abortion tears down intrinsic human relations whereby even the love of God is known. Abortion is the fruit of a philosophy that believes human beings are separated, strangers to each other, alone, disconnected and disintegrated. Through abortion we say we do not know our neighbor. More than that, it is a refusal to know our neighbor.
The alienating philosophy of abortion has a fruit that one can pick at the edges of a loading dock, at the bottom of trash dumpsters and trash bins. Last year a handful of us from Milwaukee and Chicago picked the fruit of the abortion death chambers—the disintegrated bodies of the aborted unborn, human beings cut off from the world and thrown away. We saw their broken, twisted limbs and sometimes even a face. Once as I cleaned the specimen bags of leaking formalin the face of a 12-week old fetal child loomed eerily through his blood and scrambled limbs. Through the murky fluid the fetal child showed his face as if through a window. The face abortion tried to hide emerged into my sight. I pondered the face of a child his own mother would never see. Cocked to one side, slightly crushed, his face bore a tortured look with his eyes tightly shut.
Acts of Charity
When a man or a woman stands before the door of an abortion center, the order of the world that rests on human relatedness is put back together. The radical denial of neighbor upon which legalized abortion thrives is reversed. The violence of an unjust law tearing down creation is undone.
A pro-life rescue, therefore, is not primarily a political act of social protest to force a change in the law. A rescue is an act of charity. Most often it is charity rooted in Christian religious conviction, and there are at least two things no state has authority to ban: our love and our worship. When the law forbids trespass to save unborn children from abortion, the law has in effect prevented persons from practicing charity towards their neighbor.
Laws used to protect the abortion business are not broken for their own sake by pro-life rescuers. They are broken as a result of the state banning a particular performance of charity. The pro-lifer has broken a law because he refuses to be pulled into the lie of legal abortion that pre-born children do not exist. Regarding the logic of Roe v. Wade John T. Noonan in his book A Private Choice commented that “The child became less than a being; on the way to becoming a ghost it became a ghost—a theory whose tenuous and debatable character suggested that no living reality was present at all.”
The sin of the priest and the Levite was to act as if the man half-dead on the road did not exist. They saw him “but continued on” (Luke 10:31). It was the Samaritan who came to the man’s aid. His was the appropriate response to someone in need. When pro-lifers block the door to a building where unborn children are scheduled to be killed, this is an appropriate response to the children’s need at that moment.
Another reason for the small number of rescuers from 1975 to 1988 is the fact that pro-lifers generally are just not the type of people who “go against” the law. For the most part pro-lifers are middle-class people, decent folk who have invested their whole lives in keeping social order by obeying the law. They pay their taxes, pay their mortgages, send their kids to school, and attend church on a regular basis. Breaking a law, being arrested, going to court, and going to jail—all go completely against acceptable social behavior. It means a person will be a protester, will stand out and will be different. It means that one will become a different person.
How keenly I felt this to be true in the flash of a moment. One night when preparing dinner, I opened the refrigerator door and thrust my hand inside to remove a carton of milk. In the midst of this incredibly insignificant and mundane action I was gripped by the thought that here I was doing a “normal” thing, making dinner, when the world was not a normal place anymore. The wholesale killing of innocent human beings was as close as the street corners of our cities and towns. Children were being disowned and killed by their own parents! The world was not the same place anymore, and I knew I could not live as though it were. I felt a confirmation of my activism. According to society’s standards I would be abnormal because I loved the unborn.
On May 1, 1988, one week following our successful car rescue at Bread and Roses, I arrived in New York City with pro-life friends from Racine, Wisconsin, to attend something called “Operation Rescue.” Edmund, fresh from being chained to the back end of a car, also attended. The poverty-ridden Times Square Hotel served as Operation Rescue headquarters. The hotel was the perfect place for pro-life rescuers to be lodged as it was home to New York’s outcasts and unwanted.
At 5 o’clock Monday morning the rescuers assembled outside the hotel. Crowd marshals holding up tiny American flags to identify themselves led the group to the rescue site by a winding, torturous subway route. The route was purposely designed to throw off any pro-abortion activists who hoped to sabotage the project. After five different transfers we finally climbed the stairs out of the subway and emerged into the early morning light of the street above. My eyes fell upon a sea of people all crowded in front of the single door to a small store front building, the abortion center of Dr. Herbert Schwartz.
I raced across the street past a group of about 50 angry, shouting pro-abortion picketers whose number would triple by the day’s end. I took my place among the other rescuers seating myself in front of five rows of people who were already blocking the door of Schwartz’s abortion center. Five-hundred-and-three pro-lifers formed a human wall to prevent the killing of the unborn, and at least one-half of the group were Protestants—mostly from evangelical and Pentecostal denominations.
After I sat down, others sat down in front of me, and another wave of rescuers sat down in front of them. I felt a little lost and even insignificant in this ocean of bodies. Ten feet from me sat Bishop Austin Vaughan, and another ten feet from him sat Orthodox Rabbi Yehuda Levin. There were Greek Orthodox priests, Catholic priests, some nuns, and Protestant ministers as well. Also seated before the door was a very large, good-looking, dark-haired man, Mark Bavaro, an all-pro tight-end for the New York Giants. He was quietly praying a rosary. This rescue marked a turning point within pro-life activism. In short, the charity we had practiced for the unborn in years gone by had suddenly become a movement.
“Look for me everywhere,” Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue, told the reporters. At first I thought the statement was simply egotistical, but taken non-literally it was a kind of prophecy. Within 12 months, 26,000 arrests would take place in pro-life rescues across the country. Randall Terry, an ex-used car salesman and Evangelical lay preacher, is a man of strong convictions, strong personality, and a great deal of energy. He was in control of his project, or at least insisted that he be. No one would be permitted to deviate from his plan.
As he stood among the sea of rescuers piled before the door he directed and orchestrated, gave orders and commands like a general in charge of a military operation. I had learned from my own experience that the success of a rescue depended upon strong leadership and this Terry provided.
The 503 rescuers spilled into the street singing hymns prescribed by an Operation Rescue psalter. The throng of pro-lifers seemed to be faced with an equal number of New York police officers. I wondered how long it would take them to arrest the hundreds of rescuers.
A new strategy had entered the rescue movement—something called “police negotiations” which was unheard of in previous years. But when one has numbers one has power. Five-hundred pro-lifers could be used to gain concessions from the police department. Rescue leaders in New York had struck a deal with the police. The rescuers would not lock arms or chain themselves together if the police promised to arrest persons only three at a time allowing the rescuers to go limp (passive resistance) and be carried away. The carrying away would be facilitated by stretchers. Such a negotiation could actually prolong the rescue attempt.
What I feared, however, was that the essential goal of saving the unborn would be compromised or held hostage to some prior commitment to the police. When one is attempting to save the life of another person, one is not bound by any prior agreement that might turn out to hinder rather than aid that goal. Sometimes charity cannot be negotiated.
At the last minute the New York police altered their end of the agreement. No one would be permitted to practice passive resistance. The rescuers had to get onto the stretchers themselves or be charged with resisting arrest in addition to disorderly conduct. A handful of rescuers, including myself and Edmund, refused to obey this “change in the plan.” Ninety-five percent of those seated before the door to Schwartz’s abortion center had never been in a rescue before. This would be their first arrest.
Finally, I began to realize that the New York Operation Rescue had a dual goal: to save unborn children from abortion while providing a field training experience to the vast first-timers. The intent of the New York rescues was to recruit new participants and build a national movement by making at least the first arrests as easy and painless as possible.
Those of us from the “old school” of rescues, mostly Catholic veterans, watched the new rescuers facilitate their own arrest. We were thrown into the most wrenching of conscience qualms. Our goal had always been to stay as long as possible in front of the abortion center door—not to leave it! To me it seemed that climbing onto the stretcher by one’s own power meant abandoning the unborn children that we had come to save.
In the end the first day of Operation Rescue was a success in terms of effectively closing Schwartz’s abortion center. No matter how anyone was arrested, hundreds of people arrested three at a time prevented the scheduled abortions. But I wondered in what direction the movement was headed. The heart of a rescue had to be an act of love in sacrifice given by one’s whole body on behalf of human beings so unwanted they were about to be killed. A rescue is not a protest against abortion. Rescuers no more protest the killing of unborn children than someone who runs into a burning building to save a child trapped inside is protesting against the fire. A protest is a verbal and much needed public denunciation of an evil. A rescue is the giving over, not only of one’s voice, but of one’s body so that another human body, that of a fetal child, can be protected
If Randall Terry used the New York Operation Rescue as a recruitment project, his nurturing soon bore fruit. The process began in Atlanta when Operation Rescue conducted a series of rescues there in July 1988, during the same week the city hosted the Democratic National Convention. Ironically, what caused the quick maturing of Operation Rescue was the opposite of what it so carefully tried to avoid in New York—namely confrontation with police authority. If there were any police negotiations in Atlanta the “deal” must have quickly fallen apart. Of course, under the pro-abortion mayorship of Andrew Young, one could hardly expect the Atlanta police to behave sympathetically.
I had my first taste of police brutality on May 10, 1986, the Saturday before Mother’s Day when 25 members of Citizens for Life blocked the door to the Milwaukee Women’s Health Organization. The center, housed in a small, isolated building, was run by the Reverend Elinor Yeo, a woman minister of the United Church of Christ. Edmund Miller gained access to the hallway where the abortion chambers were located and handcuffed himself to the door of one of the rooms. Two other rescuers handcuffed themselves to a metal bar on the outside door of the clinic itself.
The Reverend Yeo, stout, gray-haired and matronly, tried unsuccessfully to muscle her way through our human wall. Afterwards, she called the police and they soon arrived. Captain Sutter, a large, well-built man, stepped up to the group. His voice was filled with contempt and impatience as he loudly ordered us to disperse.
“Officer,” I said to the man, “If we leave, you know very well unborn children will be killed here.”
“Are you refusing to leave?” he asked, almost rhetorically.
“Sir, we cannot go. As long as we stay here human beings will not be put to death.”
Sutter gave the group a look of disgust. He walked away and spoke some words to other policemen waiting nearby. Soon the arrests began. Captain Sutter approached me. My arms were locked together with my fellow rescuers. He disentangled my right arm. I proceeded to lower my body to the ground so as to go limp.
I felt Sutter do something odd with my right hand.
He fumbled with it, trying to take hold of it. I did not understand at all what he was attempting to do. Suddenly the most awful pain shot through my wrist and caused my whole body to lurch backwards on the ground. I screamed more than once from the pain as Sutter, with his hand covering mine, bent my hand towards my arm in a hold that seemed to rip my wrist in two. I still did not understand the reason he caused me this pain.
“Are you going to walk to the wagon?” he asked.
Now I understood. This “pain compliance” was a device to get me away from the door. He would not allow passive resistance. I struggled to remain, and Sutter bent the wrist even more. I was sure it was about to break. This time as he bent my hand down he pulled on my arm and brought me forward to my feet. Half being dragged and half walking, I was forced to the police van. At the mouth of the arrest vehicle I cried out to Sutter: “Why are you torturing me?”
“Well, if you’d walk on your own this wouldn’t be necessary.”
“I can’t,” I cried, “We’re here to protect the unborn.”
Incredibly, as soon as I uttered those words the pain became more tolerable—even diminished in its intensity. I knew it was because I had turned myself for a moment away from my own pain and on to the children.
I was not to be the only victim of Sutter’s brutality. Anyone who refused to walk away was treated in the same manner. The pro-life picketers were stunned upon hearing our cries.
This police treatment was only a small foretaste of what members of Operation Rescue would endure. The Atlanta police made rescuers walk by placing pressure behind their ears. This pressure caused some pro-lifer’s not only pain but bleeding as well. A March 11, 1989, rescue in Pittsburgh, conducted under local Pennsylvania and New Jersey leadership, reads like a litany of horrors. An eye-witness account was reported in the May 1989 Rescue Newsbrief:
Angela was dragged onto the bus by her hair. People were billy-clubbed, kicked and punched…. As soon as the police began this activity, they removed their ID badges…. The women were taken to the county jail…. As the women were dragged up the steps, their clothing was pulled away and exposed their breasts; pants were pulled down. One officer… dragged one woman up the steps while pressing his body against her; she was bare from the waist up. During this entire procedure there was foul language, obscenities and threats of putting women rescuers in rooms with male prisoners to be sodomized and raped. Women’s noses were pulled and twisted to force them to walk…. Rescuers were all brought into a room and told they would be “frisked” by female officers. They were asked to strip in front of male guards and male prisoners. All refused. They were then forcibly stripped by both male and female guards, dragged, kicked and punched. Women rescuers were fondled, verbally abused and threatened continually.
Police violence continued in Los Angeles, March 25, at a rescue in which over 400 people participated. “Pain compliance” holds included inserting fingers into nostrils, grinding thumbs or knuckles into eye sockets, and lifting or dragging persons by their ears. Police also made use of a martial arts instrument called “nunchakus.” I saw one startling photograph of a young man, rather slight of build, whose right and left arms were twisted in the instruments. Another policeman grabbed the rescuer’s lower jaw, squeezing his chin and throat. The rescuer’s contorted face was cocked to one side, his eyes tightly shut. The image roused a memory of another face I had seen. For a moment a pro-lifer was conformed to the aborted baby’s death mask—a specter of rejection.
On April 29, 1989, Edmund Miller and Chet Kilgore entered the Milwaukee County Circuit Court of Judge William Haese, an ex-Marine whose closely cropped hair was reminiscent of his military days. Haese ran his court in an efficient, no-nonsense, military manner. Edmund and Chet were not before a sympathetic judge. Grounded firmly in the written word of law and order, Haese lacked the necessary moral and judicial imagination to understand that Edmund and Chet’s actions did not constitute a “crime.”
In a sense, pro-lifers in court share the lot of the unborn. They, like fetal children, are defenseless. Edmund and Chet tried to use the public forum of the trial to witness to the hidden victims of abortion. Every chance they got they talked about the children bound for abortion and the necessity to defend them. One always hopes for at least one juror with a well-formed conscience who will vote for acquittal.
In the middle of the trial Judge Haese made a ruling that Edmund, Chet, and their attorney Craig Parshall could not refer to Bread and Roses as an “abortion clinic.” He stated, “The term is inflammatory language and may prejudice the jury.”
The prosecuting attorney held up for the seven men and five women the chain that bound Chet to the car. It rattled and clanked in a heavy, conspicuous manner as the D.A. took it out of a cardboard box. “Ladies and gentlemen, look at these chains! I have never seen chains this big! How can there be any question that these defendants intended to create a disturbance, pre-planned and pre-meditated!”
Judge Haese sentenced Edmund to pay a $500 fine and spend ten days in jail. Chet was to pay the same and spend five days in jail. But Edmund and Chet refused to pay any fine. Haese then sentenced Edmund to 30 days in jail and Chet to 25.
Three blocks away the police were loading rescuers into the police van. With a mere 21 people the rescue had lasted two-and-a-half hours. The three sidewalk counselors witnessed six women scheduled for abortions turn around and leave. A black couple in their late teens were talked to extensively by one of the counselors. Since they could not enter the abortion center while we blocked the door, the counselor had plenty of time to talk to them. They stood at the entrance of the building where they planned to kill their child. They were frightened, unsure, and embarrassed. The girl stood trembling, clinging to her boyfriend’s arm. He shifted his feet nervously as together they stared at the photograph of a fetal child dismembered by abortion at ten weeks’ gestation. A few feet away from them a rescuer was dragged with his hands handcuffed behind him to the door of the police van.
The couple shyly looked at each other, looked at the photograph for another glance, then looked at each other again. They tried to decide what to do. Their consciences must have pulled on them with a terrible ache. The counselor gave them her phone number and information where they could go for help. Finally, in an unfathomable moment of grace, the couple armed with pro-life pamphlets turned without uttering a word and left. Their child would not be killed. And in this action the truth about the boy’s manhood and the girl’s womanhood was also affirmed. The rescuers had “broken the law” to put the world back together.
On July 3, 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Missouri restrictions on abortion in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services. Deemed a pro-life victory, some states may severely restrict at least second trimester abortions of “viable” fetal children. The success of Webster, however, will do virtually nothing to stop the necessity of pro-life rescues, for the vast majority of fetal children are killed within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.
While Webster will have no effect on the rescue movement, the question is, What effect will rescues have on the goal of reversing Roe v. Wade? Because blocking the entrance to an abortion center is an act of charity towards the unborn scheduled to be killed, it is an act that focuses attention on abortion as such. Fomenting social unrest is not the aim of a rescue, but it is an effect—an effect that can awaken public consciousness that abortion is an act that kills another person. But this awakening of public opinion will only be caused if the rescues are real lifesaving attempts and not merely symbolic protests.
Because a rescue is an act of charity for the un-wanted it is a disruption of the social order. It goes against the so-called order that facilitates the destruction of the innocent. To break the law by which an unborn child is put to death strikes at a violence that parades as social order simply because the killing is shrouded in legislative and judicial degree.
A rescue unmasks this farce. When rescuers block the door to an abortion center, the unjust law is challenged publicly. By the very nature of this challenge, the public is at least provided an opportunity it would not otherwise have to question and be made less secure about the moral and political foundation upon which abortion rests. Thousands of people who risk arrest to stop the killing of the innocent cannot help but aid in the eventual toppling of Roe v. Wade. John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe once remarked that history teaches that great evil is overcome by one of two ways: violent war or the tremendous outpouring of pain and sacrifice. In imitation of Christ the pro-lifer chooses the latter course.
Love Thy Neighbor
A rescue may not always result in a child being saved. But the success of a rescue cannot be measured solely in these terms. As I write these words Edmund and Chet are in jail and they do not really know if any or all of the 25 children they saved from abortion were not carried back to the chambers by their mothers and slain at a later date. A rescue is an act of charity and not an act of power. If a child whom a pro-lifer tried to save is later killed by abortion, at least he did not leave this world unloved. Abortion is the greatest failure of love in the world because the closest human beings to the child—the mother and father—say, “I do not know you.”
A rescuer undoes this complete denial of neighbor—undoes the ethics of isolation that says “I do not know you.” The pro-life rescue movement rests on a scriptural mandate:
Rescue those who are being dragged to death, and from those tottering to execution withdraw not…. If you say “I know not this man!” does not he who tests hearts perceive it?… He who guards your life knows it, and he will repay each one according to his deeds. [Proverbs 24:11-12]
The person who stands in front of the door to an abortion center to save the unborn is ultimately a witness to the order of the world—an order which rests in recognizing one’s neighbor. In this world the Son of God was once our neighbor within His mother’s womb. The aborted unborn are caught in the bloody Passion of this Man. As we sit before the doors of the death chambers perhaps by a grace we can be spared the bitter tears of St. Peter’s denial. We pray to say his words “Yes Lord, you know that I love you”—words that conquer the death chamber anthem “I do not know the man.”